10 Jul Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Wine and Chocolate Pairing with Jackson Family Wines, Jackson Family WellVine™ Chardonnay Marc, and Vine to Bar Chocolates
I love wine and I love dark chocolate. But pairing dry wines with high quality dark chocolate is typically a faux paux. However, after enjoying four wines from Jackson Family Wines paired with Vine to Bar Chocolates, made with WellVine™ Chardonnay Marc, I have found that you can pair dry wines with high quality chocolate. That is why pairing wine and chocolate with Jackson Family Wines, Jackson Family WellVine™ Chardonnay Marc, and Vine to Bar Chocolates is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Jackson Family Wines is a very sustainably-minded business. Since Jess Jackson launched Kendall Jackson Chardonnay in 1982, the focus has been on protecting for the future. Jess Jackson had a love for the land and never used pesticides or chemicals as they did not fit with his vision for sustainability. Continuing his tradition, his wife Barbara Banke and longtime-friend Peggy Furth created Sonomaceuticals LLC in 2009 with the intent of generating new uses for vineyard byproducts. Calling it the “full cycle” of sustainability, in harmony with the cycle of nature and the vine, they are using items once used for compost for other things. One of these things is Chardonnay Marc.
Chardonnay Marc is the spent skins, or pomace, of the Chardonnay grapes. The grapes are picked and gently pressed. The juice is then fermented while the pomace is typically discarded or composted. Instead, they are taking the pomace, drying it, and then milling it to create a healthy whole food ingredient with beneficial nutrients, flavanols and natural sweetness. Ever since the story ran about the “French Paradox”, we have known about the health benefits of red wine. But here we are seeing advantages to white grapes. In addition to a range of diverse phenolic compounds, Chardonnay Marc, according to research from food scientists at UC Davis, also carries a wealth of potentially health-enhancing compounds called oligosaccharides, which are found in many foods and plants, including human breast milk. Recent advances have revealed oligosaccharides’ vast potential to support gut health, and early studies indicate that Chardonnay Marc can become a source for developing supplements and other food products to support health.
With Chardonnay Marc as a super food, Chocolatier Ralph Jerome was approached to use it in chocolate. Doubtful at first, he was “blown away” but how well it works in chocolate. Chardonnay Marc gives the chocolate fruity aromatics and a slight sweetness that rounds out the bitterness of the chocolate. Marc also has a pleasant acidity that comes through on the finish, complimenting the overall flavor. And that is how Vine to Bar, a premium, gourmet chocolate, and uniquely the world’s first dark chocolate made with WellVine™ Chardonnay Marc, was born. Sourced from vineyards up and down California’s coastline, what was once a by-product of winemaking has been re-imagined into this new upcycled superfood. As Master Sommelier Michael Jordan expressed, “it is a win for our palates and for the planet.”
Vine to Bar chocolates come in four flavors (dark chocolate, almonds with pink Himalayan salt, tart cherry & cocoa nibs, and smoked salt & cocoa nibs). Not only are the chocolates delicious but they really do pair with wine. Each chocolate is 65% dark chocolate so they are not extremely bitter to begin with. The Chardonnay Marc adds a slight sweetness and acidity and when paired with fruit forward, dry wines, two delicious flavors come together!
The La Crema Rosé of Pinot Noir from Monterey paired with the Dark Chocolate. The wine has wild strawberry, watermelon, and citrus aromas, bright crisp flavors, and fresh acidity that paired beautifully with the smooth dark chocolate. But, the Rosé was also enjoyed with the Tart Cherry & Cocoa chocolate as the fruit notes of the wine and chocolate were in harmony.
The Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay paired with Almonds with Pink Himalayan Salt. The wine has notes of tropical fruit, baking spices, and vanilla. I loved the nuttiness of the chocolate to match the richness of the wine and the saltiness of the chocolate to cut through the richness and highlight the acidity.
The Cambria Estate Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley paired with the Tart Cherry & Cocoa chocolate. The wine with tart cherry, cranberry, red fruit, and baking spice notes was in perfect harmony with the Tart Cherry & Cocoa. Together the cherry flavors exploded in the mouth.
The Murphy-Goode Zinfandel paired with the Chardonnay Smoked Salt & Cocoa chocolate. The briary, rich ripe fruit notes of the wine and the smokiness of the chocolate were in balance and the chocolate increased the length of the wine’s finish.
Tasting each chocolate with the wines was fun as it really was the first time I have enjoyed dark chocolate with wine. Each chocolate was enjoyable on its own, as was each wine. Each pairing worked but in the end, the best pairing of all was the Cambria Estate Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Santa Maria Valley paired with the Tart Cherry & Cocoa chocolate. The harmony of the cherry flavors and the bright acidity made a lasting impression.